TEXARKANA, Tx (KMSS/KTAL) – The Pleasant Grove Hawks are headed to the Class 4A state baseball championships following a 2-0 series win over Liberty-Eylau. Head Coach Riley Fincher spoke with John Sartori about the obstacles the team has overcome to accomplish their goals and the role the community has played in the team’s success this season.
John Sartori: Did you feel like the team had potential to make it to the state tournament? How much of that fueled the off-season program in terms of your kids coming back and wanting to make another run at this thing?
Riley Fincher: Yeah, it was definitely tough last year, if you ask anybody that is associated with our program it was tough, just the stoppage and kind of just the world stopping, no one knew what to expect. The days dragged on like they did for everybody. We definitely hurt for that team last year, we had a great group of seniors, just a great team overall that we felt like had a really good opportunity to play for a long time. Things happen that were out of our control and we weren’t able to finish the season but those young men are off doing great in college right now and we’re excited for them. Starting the season off still under all those restrictions, we never use it as an excuse they just use it as an opportunity to get out there and play, and these young men have handled so many distractions, so many changes, ups and downs and we’re just extremely proud of them and the way that they continue to strive as young men.
John Sartori: Did you go into the season knowing that that this team was going to be right there on the cusp of this?
Riley Fincher: We definitely have high expectations for our program. Our young men know those expectations. We talk about them all the time we don’t shy away from them. We say that in the most humble way possible. Our young men know what we expect here in our program, what our school expects our community expects and, you know, we had a lot of unknowns. Going into this season, with, a lot of guys that are returning guys but they missed the season last year and didn’t get that experience of advancing in the playoffs and playing in the playoffs. You could see it throughout the year on a lot of teams, our teams, especially. You see the ups and downs, you will see us play play really well and then play like it was the first time we’ve been out there, and just to see those young men grow to see them come together as a team to see them be unselfish, to just want to improve so much for their team. That’s what makes this group so special.
John Sartori: There’s been a lot of resources put into all the programs at Pleasant Grove. Could you just talk a little bit about what it means to have a support system that that does care about the athletics, and you know does want to give your kids as good an opportunity to succeed as they do?
Riley Fincher: Pleasant Grove is very special place to work. From our admin, all the way from the top to our superintendent, all the way to every employee that works there. You walk around our campus, you walk around the other campuses, you see people that genuinely have a love and care for our students, in our school, and in our community, and it starts from the top. That’s why this place is so special because we have everyone rooting for each other. All of our kids are unique and individual and they’re very talented in what they choose to do, and I keep saying it, that’s what makes this place so special and this school.